Newsletter #594

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I’m still reeling from the shock of last night, as despite a convincing performance from the Blues, including all three points, the major news has to be Shaun Goater’s failure to score a goal! In all seriousness, I’ve had to write some truly depressing ‘intros’ to MCIVTA over the last 6 years, so perhaps I can be forgiven for being a little scurrilous this time around. I’m sure most of us are pre-conditioned to expect City to stumble and fall, so it was a great feeling as City tore Bolton to shreds during the first 45 mins (well, it certainly sounded like it on GMR!).

This issue has Peter’s News Summary (produced even though Peter has a depressingly large workload at present); two match reports from the Bolton game; three from the Swindon game (thanks to those who responded); opinion and a Why Blue; as well as a statement from the Football Supporters’ Assocaition regarding the tragic events of last night in Istanbul.

Roll on Saturday…

Next game: Crewe Alexandra at home, Saturday 8th April 2000

NEWS SUMMARY

City Beat Trotters to go Back Second

Manchester City finally played their game in hand over their Division One promotion rivals on Wednesday. And the Blues beat Bolton 2-0 at Maine Road to move ahead of Barnsley in the race for the Premiership. City took the lead on 18 minutes through a Kevin Horlock strike. And Paul Dickov notched the second goal five minutes later. The result moves the Blues a point clear of Barnsley and three ahead of fourth-placed Ipswich with six games remaining. The Suffolk club could only draw 1-1 at West Brom on Tuesday. And a bonus for City is a goal difference which is superior to both of their rivals. All three sides are at home to relegation-threatened opponents – the Blues entertain Crewe, the East Anglians face Port Vale and the Tykes encounter West Brom.

First Half Super Show Delights Royle

Joe Royle was delighted after Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Bolton on Wednesday. And the City boss felt his team’s first-half showing was particularly worthy of praise. Royle was pleased with the spirit of his players, who carried out admirably their manager’s instructions not to let the Wanderers settle. And the result was the Blues’ best display in several weeks, with the Trotters never having the chance to recover from last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final disappointment. “My team knew they needed to win this one, it was our game in hand, and they went for Bolton from the start,” explained Royle. “And in that first half we played as well as we have done for a very long time.”

“Gamble” Pays Off for Royle

Joe Royle admitted to taking a gamble with his team selection on Wednesday evening for the Blues’ game with Bolton. But the decision to field Gerard Wiekens in midfield paid off for the City boss. The Dutchman’s central defensive partnership with Richard Jobson has been broken up after the arrival of Spencer Prior. And the new pairing once again performed resolutely against the Trotters. But Royle found a place for Wiekens in the midfield rôle he originally occupied for the Blues under Frank Clark. And the City boss, who admitted he’d been considering the move for some time, hailed the move as a success.

Sam Backing City Promotion Bid

Bolton’s defeat at Maine Road on Wednesday evening has left the Trotters with a mountain to climb if they’re to make the Division One play-offs this season. But Wanderers’ boss Sam Allardyce doesn’t expect to face the Blues even if his side does claim a top six spot. Allardyce admitted that his team was deservedly beaten by the Blues. And, unlike some experts, the ex-Notts County manager expects the Blues to seal automatic promotion. “They have got strength in depth, and that’s so crucial at this stage. They had Shaun Goater and Danny Tiatto off injured but could still turn to players of the calibre of Danny Granville and Lee Mills to come on,” said the Bolton boss. “I think they will hold their nerve and hang on now to one of those top two spots.”

Royle Not Even Considering Play-Offs

Manchester City look certain to claim at least a play-off place this season. But Joe Royle doesn’t want to contemplate the end-of-season lottery and is hoping instead for an automatic promotion berth. The Blues won promotion in spectacular fashion through the play-offs last term, with a stunning comeback against Gilligham after seeming down and out in the Wembley final. But the City boss, like most of the club’s fans, could do without a repeat of that kind of heart-stopping drama. “Nobody here is talking about going up through the play-offs – we had enough experience of that last year,” admitted Royle. “Automatic promotion is what we are aiming for and that will be the case until it’s mathematically impossible for us.”

Cooke Wigan Loan Extended

Manchester City have agreed to let Terry Cooke stay on loan at Wigan for another month. And it appears that the move could be made permanent in the summer if the Latics win promotion to Division One. Since the winger’s arrival, Wigan have moved back into a top-two position, and manager John Benson has made no secret of his admiration for the ex-Manchester United player. Cooke’s self-proclaimed reluctance to drop down a division on a permanent basis has so far prevented the clubs from doing a cash deal, but if the player can help the Latics go up the obstacle will be removed. The loan is likely to be extended for a further month to allow Cooke to play in Wigan’s final league game of the season – plus the play-offs, should the Latics be participating for a second successive year.

City Happy as Goater Cuts Deal

The midweek clash against Bolton saw what’s these days become a rarity at Maine Road as Shaun Goater failed to find the net for Manchester City. But the Bermudian striker still delivered a massive boost to the Blues on Wednesday. The striker has been under threat of missing several of his club’s remaining fixtures through international commitments. But the City top scorer has made clear that his personal priority lies with his club and he’s been in intense talks to persuade his country’s football authorities to see things the same way. “We did a lot of tough talking,” said the thirty-year-old, “but in the end they agreed not to call me up for the games in April or May.”

Boss Refutes Bishop New Deal Rumour

With his current contract due to expire in the summer, Ian Bishop has been in protracted negotiations with the club over a new deal. But Joe Royle has reportedly denied speculation that the midfielder is about to commit to another two years with the club. Bishop was originally offered a one-year extension but was thought to be holding out for an extra year – and Sunday tabloid reports claimed a two-year deal worth £5,000 per week had been agreed. But the official City website at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/ reports that the City boss has confirmed that the position is unchanged, with a one-year offer on the table for the 34-year-old’s consideration. The the ex-West Ham player is, however, thought to be keen to stay at Maine Road.

Prior Praises New Partner

Spencer Prior has only played two games at the heart of the Manchester City defence. But the recent arrival from Derby feels he’s already part of a successful new combination in the Blues’ back line. Prior has slotted in alongside fellow centre-back Richard Jobson, and the former Leicester and Norwich player is delighted with the understanding the pair have already reached. “Richard knows the game inside out and it’s nice to play alongside him,” the 28-year-old told local radio station BBC GMR. Manager Joe Royle originally had no choice over who would make way for Prior, with Gerard Wiekens ruled out through illness when the new boy made his début. But the City boss changed tack on Wednesday, handing the Dutchman a midfield rôle.

Peacock Set for Knee Op

Lee Peacock is to undergo a knee operation. The 23-year-old striker has been sidelined for a month with the complaint and will finally go under the surgeon’s knife in a bid to regain fitness once and for all. The November signing from Mansfield has scored plentifully in the City reserves but has failed to find the net in the senior side. And it now seems unlikely he’ll have another chance to break his duck this term. The Blues, however, are fortunate in having plenty of forward cover. Paul Dickov has shown signs of a return to form in the last couple of games, while on-loan Lee Mills is fit again after a rib injury. In addition, Shaun Goater seems unlikely to face lay-offs through international call-ups and Robert Taylor could also be in contention again soon after his latest fitness problems.

Weaver Takes Dressing-Room Flack

After the media glare focused on the new haircut of a certain midfielder with another club, Nicky Weaver also unveiled shorn locks at the weekend. And the City goalkeeper has had to take stick from his team-mates as a result. Weaver was sporting a new, more closely cropped hairstyle when the Blues took the field at the County Ground on Saturday. But the England under-21 man confirmed that the transformation had been effected by a local barber rather than when the Sheffield-born star had been in Spain on international duty. Much attention focused on the price tag for David Beckham’s slightly more radical new look, but Weaver was staying coy, revealing only that, “It wasn’t £300 but that is all I’m going to stay.”

Hince Calls on Fans to Believe

In recent years, Manchester City fans have grown used to the idea that if a disaster can happen, it will. But journalist Paul Hince believes the Maine Road faithful should start to prepare themselves for a brighter future. Manchester Evening News correspondent Hince is a former player who began his career with the Blues before moving to Charlton, Bury and Crewe. And during his spell at Maine Road, he even featured in seven league games during the club’s 1967-68 championship season. Now the lifelong City fan believes the good times are just round the corner again, and after watching the midweek win over Bolton, he wrote, “Perhaps it’s time to stop waiting for the Blues to fall flat on their faces and accept that Big Joe really has given us a side good enough to gain automatic promotion and maybe even ruffle a few feathers in the Premiership.” It would be nice to think he’s right.

Red and Black Shirt to go On Sale

Manchester City wore a red-and-black striped away kit when notching up several major triumphs during the club’s late 1960s and early-1970s golden era. And after re-launching the design as this season’s third kit, the Blues are set to put the shirt on sale. City are set to produce a limited edition leisure shirt based on the classic stripes – minus, judging from the Manchester Evening News photograph featuring Mark Kennedy as a model, the logo of sponsors Eidos. The new shirt will be available from 8am on Thursday April 20 at the City Store at Maine Road. Some shirts will also be available on the website and by Maine Line mail order on 0161-226 6000. It had originally been thought that the red and black would be used as an away kit next season, but the latest development could signal a change of plan.

Alty Friendly Rearranged

Manchester City have rearranged their reserve friendly at Altrincham. The match will now be played exactly a week later than scheduled, after the new date was set for Thursday, 13 April. When the match finally does take place, the Blues will have another chance to monitor the form of the Robins’ 14-goal winger Kevin Ellison. The player impressed in a reserve appearance while on trial at Maine Road last week and has attracted interest from Manchester United and Coventry in addition to a firm bid from Preston. The Conference outfit are said to want £300,000 for their major asset and rejected the Lilywhites’ offer of £130,000 out of hand.

Boss Hails New Boy Prior

Spencer Prior is only three games into his Manchester City career. But according to Joe Royle the recent signing from Derby has already made a big impact at Maine Road. Royle says that Prior has “added to us as a defensive unit”, lending strength, pace and leadership to a City back line which had started to look decidedly weaker than in the early stages of the campaign. Gerard Wiekens has been the man to make way for the former Norwich and Leicester player but although the City boss is delighted with his new acquisition, he’s been quick to emphasise that the Dutchman still has a rôle to play. “I’ve spoken to Gerard and he’s not the scapegoat for our failure to win recently,” affirmed Royle.

Gradi Hoping for Maine Road Lift

After the midweek victory over Bolton, Manchester City have another home fixture at the weekend. Struggling Crewe make the short trip to Maine Road with their manager hoping his side will be inspired by their surroundings. The Cheshire outfit are in 20th place in the table, only two points clear of the relegation zone. And they had an especially poor result last weekend, suffering a 3-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest. Boss Dario Gradi knows his side will have to improve to be competitive on their visit to Moss Side, but believes they have every prospect of doing so. “We’ve got to make a few more chances than we have been doing,” he admitted. “But we’ll continue to work to improve what we’ve got and we’ll try to tinker with the formation to see if we can get ourselves to play a bit better.”

Fitness Boost for Weekend Opponents

Defender Stephen Wright has recovered from a bout of illness and will bolster the Crewe defence at Maine Road on Saturday. And the Railwaymen are hoping that key striker Rodney Jack will also return after injury. Jack, who scored the 1-1 draw between the teams at the start of January, has been sidelined recently by a calf injury but the Trinidad and Tobago international is making a good recovery. However, defender Dave Walton has no chance of being fit for the game after straining a hamstring. Crewe lost 3-0 to Nottingham Forest in their last game but manager Dario Gradi felt the scoreline was misleading. “We played some of the best football we’ve played for a while last week against Forest, but unfortunately we made more mistakes,” he said.

Horlock Cautious Ahead of Crewe Visit

Kevin Horlock scored a crucial goal for against Bolton in midweek to put the Blues in pole position in the race for second place in Division One. But after the match, the midfielder was prepared to look forward only to Saturday’s game against Crewe. The midfielder was delighted to find the net on his return to first-team action after a month on the Maine Road sidelines. But the Northern Ireland international knows that the Blues need to keep up the momentum when Dario Gradi’s side visit on Saturday. “Now it is important that we don’t get carried away and prepare properly for Crewe at Maine Road on Saturday. There is no point looking beyond that,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

Goater Doubtful for Crewe Clash

Shaun Goater is facing a race against time to be fit for the weekend visit of Crewe. The City striker suffered a thigh injury in City’s win over Bolton on Wednesday. The 30-year-old was substituted early in the second half of the win over the Trotters. And while it’s still too early to be certain, there’s concern that the Blues will be without their top scorer for the game against Dario Gradi’s side. Lee Mills came on for Goater against Bolton and would be the obvious candidate to start against the Railwaymen in the Bermudian’s absence.

Peter Brophy (peterbrophy@mancity.net)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ I

MANCHESTER CITY vs. BOLTON WANDERERS, Wednesday 5th April 2000

This game, on this date, has been indelibly etched on all City fans’ mental diaries for some months now. Our semi-mythical game in hand has always been our ‘Get Out of Jail’ card during our recent run of poor form. Our destiny has remained throughout, in our own hands on the basis we took maximum points from Bolton on April 5th.

On the way to the match, I heard our team announced on GMR. Wiekens as well as Jobbo and Prior? Surely we’re not playing 3 at the back? It was encouraging to hear that Horlock had been recalled and I entered the ground positive but with some trepidation. Our team actually consisted of Weaver, the usual back four of the last couple of games, Whitley, Horlock and Wiekens in midfield, Kennedy on the left wing and Dickov and the Goat up front. Hmmmmm. However, from almost the first kick of the game any concerns either I or my fellow Blues had were banished. City simply tore into a Bolton side still weary from the exertions at Wembley on the previous Sunday. I simply cannot describe every event of the first half in detail, but suffice to say that this was the best first half performance for ages, perhaps even of the season.

Kennedy had possibly his best game for us, destroying Bolton’s poor ex-Rag John O’Kane, as well as anyone else in a white shirt that got in his way. He twisted, turned, passed, crossed, shot, won headers, tackled back and really looked ‘up for it’. As indeed did the rest of the team. Wiekens’ midfield performance fully justified his selection. He played mainly just in front of the defence and was instrumental in breaking up most of Bolton’s attacks. Additionally his strength in the air was notable both in defensive and attacking positions. How many times have we lost the ‘second ball’ that is headed out by the opposition defence? Well tonight Gerard won most of them, resulting in unrelenting pressure being placed on the Bolton rearguard.

Our first goal came from a superb Dickov through pass, which was missed by Mark Fish. Kevin Horlock (as he does) ghosted through and neatly finished from 10 yards. Minutes later following Bolton’s only real threat (a Dean Holdsworth blockbusting free kick, saved by Weaver), a ball was played out of defence, which Kennedy flicked on to Dickov; both players hared into the Bolton penalty area, with Dickov electing to take the shot on (which he was entitled to). Unfortunately his shot was well saved. From the corner, Wiekens latched onto the clearance and chipped the ball to Dickov who turned on the edge of the 6 yard box and drove an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. His delight mirrored that in the stands.

Goater (who had played well) was replaced early in the second half by Lee Mills who (in common with most of our strikers, it seems) was clearly not match fit. Nevertheless he had one decent shot on the turn which was deflected for a corner. This half showed City’s professionalism. Bolton had more possession than in the first half, but they could not find a way through. The defensive unit, marshalled by the excellent Prior was largely untroubled. So a very impressive 2-0 win. Our performance deserved more, but that’s 4 goals for and none conceded in the last 2 games – much more like our early season form. It’s impossible to pick out a man of the match, as all performed well. Kennedy as already mentioned was a constant threat and Bolton despite changing personnel and formation just could not cope with him. Dickov was back to his best, making yet another goal, but also scoring one himself in an ‘all action display’ as they say in the papers! Wiekens was a revelation in the holding midfield rôle. Might not be right for every game, but his inclusion allowed Horlock and Whitley to get forward more and added steel to our defensive unit. Prior won everything that was thrown at him whether in the air or on the ground, and he did it with an enormous grin on his face. Clearly a man who is enjoying himself at Maine Road. Horlock did what we know he can do, Edghill was excellent throughout, even his passing. As I said, all were worthy of praise. As indeed were us, the fans. The atmosphere and noise for the whole game was certainly the best this season and it was clear that the players fed off this encouragement. Keep it up people! So with 6 games to go, 1 point ahead and with a superior goal difference is a pretty god position to be in. There will be twists and turns yet but (and this is not a prediction), if we sustained last night’s performance throughout the final 6 games, we are there, absolutely no doubt! This is a good day to be a Blue!

Phil Hartley (philh@firstcap.freeserve.co.uk)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ II

MANCHESTER CITY vs. BOLTON WANDERERS, Wednesday 5th April 2000

I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling that confident about getting all 3 points before the game, I had that nagging feeling that they would pay us back for the game at the Reebok in August.

City lined up as:

                 Weaver
Edghill    Jobson      Prior     Tiatto
                Wiekens
Whitley         Horlock         Kennedy
         Dickov         Goater

I was concerned about Wiekens as when he played in midfield for us in the Premiership he looked too slow; I had a feeling that he might be overrun. Not for the first time this season I was proved wrong.

City looked up for it from the start. Dickov was his old self, chasing lost causes, kicking centre backs and battling for everything. In the last few games I had seen he was more intent on throwing himself down and trying to get the free kick. The side looked more balanced than of late, Whitley and Edghill were combining quite well down the right and the Danny and Mark show was in full flight down the left.

Dickov held the ball up, beat a few tackles and then rolled the ball through to Super Kev who made no mistake. A few minutes later a corner was only half cleared, Wiekens sent it back across and after letting it bounce, Dickov half-volleyed it into the bottom corner.

City could have scored a few more as they continued to press but went in at half-time looking very comfortable.

The second half was a none-event. City had done enough and seemed to keep what they had, Bolton didn’t look good enough to get back into the game. There was time for Kennedy to hit the post and Whitley to knock the rebound wide. At the other end Prior and Jobson were in control.

Ratings:

Weaver – not much to do but did it well – 7
Edghill – good game for Edghill – 7
Tiatto – another good game for Danny – 7
Jobson – very stable at the back – 7
Prior – looks a great signing – 8
Wiekens – ran the midfield – 7
Horlock – tired but played well – 7
Kennedy – some great play (1st half) – 8
Whitley – had a good game – 7
Goater – quiet game for the Goat – 6
Dickov – the true Paul Dickov – 8*

I think Prior could be one of the best signings Royle has made. He takes control of the defence and Jobson looks better for it. Gerard Wiekens looked very good in midfield, he can tackle but he can also play the ball. Kevin Horlock – slow etc. Play him and he scores goals. The runs he makes are so difficult to pick up. Danny Tiatto will be the first choice left back from now on. Looks so much sharper than Danny Granville. Richard Edghill – made a few mistakes but kept going. Good to see the crowd not getting on his back.

Glyn Owen (Glyn.Owen@esoft-global.com)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE I

SWINDON TOWN vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 1st April 2000

As an exile in Bristol (and soon to be Ireland), it is a rare treat for me to actually witness the Blues in action. In fact, this is my first live game since the pre-season Bristol City friendly and, on the evidence of that match, I think that I suggested it might be quite a hard season. Well, it has been a hard season but, fortunately, to this point, also a successful one.

One pre-match observation was the difference between the warm-up routines of the two teams. It was almost like being in two different football era’s, with City’s sophisticated methods, contrasting sharply to Swindon’s old-fashioned approach. I particularly like the exercise where all the players line-up on the halfway line and sprint backwards and forward a few yards – if nothing else, it gives you a chance to take a good look at the squad! Isn’t Shaun W-P tiny – just like a little version of his dad, bandy legs and all – is he really big enough to make it?

Match Facts

City team:

Weaver
Edghill; Jobson; Prior; Tiatto
Pollock; Grant; Whitley; Kennedy
Goater; Dickov.

Maybe because of their pre-match frolics, City started reasonably brightly, taking the play to Swindon but without looking particularly dangerous. In fact, as the half wore on, the two teams gradually sank to an alarming level of mediocrity, making it hard to tell who were the table-toppers and who were the belly-floppers.

Most (all?) of City’s best work came down the left-hand side, though it seems that Kennedy was totally unwilling to go for any ball played more than six inches from his feet – a definite disadvantage in a division better known for effort than precision. The right-side of City’s midfield was almost non-existent, with Pollock contributing zero (ditto throughout the rest of the match) and Grant looking most uncomfortable amidst the hurly-burly. You have to feel sorry for Edghill, who not only was covering acres of ground defensively, but was forced also to take up the attacking burden.

Dickov contributed his usual huff and puff and, to be fair, one or two good touches. Many have questioned why he seems to spend so much time on the floor and why he seems to get so little joy from referees. Watching this game from pitch-level (Row A), I think the answer is fairly obvious – although he is a pretty combative player, he is a simply too light to take on defenders in a physical tussle and generally loses out. In a totally fair world, he would get more free kicks but, this is professional football at its most basic, with physical contact the order of the day. Just contrast his play with Goater’s – hardly an Incredible Hulk himself – watch how Goater avoids defenders and finds space. This is why he is always available either to receive a pass or to take a chance.

In spite of all the preceding comments, on the few times that I have seen Goater and Dickov paired, they do seem to like playing together and so it was no surprise when, following yet another move down the left, Dickov turned sharply to pinpoint a cross to the far post which was neatly nodded in by Goater. Was the goalkeeper a little slow? Possibly, but he was having to cover for Swindon’s absent central defence and, if he had kept the ball out of the net, it would have been hailed as a fantastic save.

So, half-time, and all as expected. Early in the second-half, Grant is replaced by Bishop, much to the joy of the travelling thousands. And, although I would say that the ‘Bish’ was far from his best, he brought another dimension to City’s attacking play. Suddenly, Kennedy was running and City were chasing Swindon ragged. Chances came and went, including a cracking shot from the edge of the box from Dickov, which brought a great save from Talia, and neat little back-header from the same player, which ended in a fairly comfortable catch for the ‘keeper.

But it only looked like a matter of time before another goal went in. Again Dickov was involved in the build-up before the ball was played into the box for the onrushing Whitley. In effect, this was the Charlton incident over again, with Jeff electing to pass rather than shoot. However, practice must make perfect as, this time, his pass to Kennedy allowed the winger plenty of time to sidefoot the ball into the roof of the net.

Game, set and match! Although Swindon had one or two half chances as City took their foot off the pedal, including a wicked shot that hit the angle of post and bar, they never really posed a threat. Towards the end, presumably as a cautionary measure, Goater was replaced by Wiekens – a curious move but one that totally wrapped up the game for the Blues.

Some observations on players:

Weaver – after a few traumatic weeks, I think he enjoyed himself in this one. I can’t recall him having any significant saves to make, but there’s no doubt that he has a big personality and, apart from his obvious ability, his general contribution to team spirit must be a big plus.

Edghill – I remember Richard as a young, promising player and I have been disappointed to hear of his supposed decline. But, this game indicated that he is back to form. It also showed just why he is selected. Ok, his passing is not his greatest asset but it’s not bad, and improves when he has someone to pass to! Undoubtedly, City are weak on the right-side of midfield and this puts a big burden on the full back. Still, an excellent all-round game, highlighted by his second-half goal-line clearance.

Jobson – a steady old game; tons of experience, well able to cope at this level. He gave nothing away.

Prior – I think he will be a good buy. His quality shone throughout this game, although, in truth, he wasn’t under much pressure. A good passer of the ball and his long throws certainly add to City’s attacking potential.

Tiatto – In many ways reminds me of Terry Phelan. Again, I can understand why Royle switched Kennedy to the right in previous matches, as, at times, the combination of Tiatto and Kennedy seems almost too much of a good thing.

The midfield – I remember saying after the Bristol City game that this will be City’s problem area. Bishop, we know is class but not for ninety minutes, even at this level. Whitley is a much improved player from my memories of a couple of years ago and reminds me a lot of Gary Flitcroft. I would like to see a City tackle count, as it appeared that Whitley contributed about 50% of the effort in this department – I bet he is Joe Royle’s first name on the teamsheet in midfield. Kennedy – well, he’s never going to be a worker or a tackler but, with the right service, he will provide plenty of opportunities for others and is capable of playing at a higher level. As for Pollock, I appreciate that playing wide on the right is not probably his best position, but he seems to offer little – can’t pass very well, gets in trouble when he tackles, has no pace, doesn’t read the game – sorry, he’s got to go! I find it hard to comment on Grant – against Fulham on TV, I thought he was the pick of City, but he doesn’t seem to like the rough and tumble of this division. Maybe he will do better in a higher league, but he will need better players around him. At the moment, the midfield is a compromise and, until a decent wide right-sided player emerges, this will always be the case. I would like to see Horlock in centre midfield, but, unfortunately, this means that Whitley is shuffled out to the right and that’s a waste. It will be interesting to see what happens with Wiekens. It may well be that Saturday’s little foray in midfield was a foretaste of something to come. Certainly, Jobson and Prior look an ideal combination at the back, with Morrison probably eventually returning to partner Prior. Wiekens has a lot of skill and a defensive rôle in front of a back three or four could be his best position. Certainly, I can see this strategy being adopted especially for tough away matches.

Dickov – see my earlier comments. Loads of effort, but not a lot of thought.

Goater – To pick up Jeremy Poynton’s comments: sorry, but I think that you underestimate the man. Shaun is one of those players who gets better as he gets older. His work rate is excellent, as is his reading of the game – which is why he gets a lot of goals. In a decent side in the Premier, he would still get 15 to 20 goals and look an even better player. I don’t know how City will score without him. In the mid-term, I think that R. Taylor will do a good job as, like Goater, he is a player getting better with experience. There’s no doubt that he has got a good football brain, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to play a lot this season. I don’t know much about the two Lee’s but it is surely asking a lot of either of them to pick up where Goater leaves off?

The immediate future – there’s no doubt that the management team have got the side well organised and motivated, with a good level of fitness. And, in spite of some shortcomings, they have a reasonably well equipped squad for this level. I always thought that player availability would be the telling point last season and I think it may be the case once again. They are reasonably hard to beat and make up for some deficiencies by sheer effort – and that counts for a lot at this level. I think that Prior was probably a shrewd buy and might just tip the balance. It’s going to be close again, but I will stick my neck out and say that, if they win the next two games (Bolton and Crewe), they will definitely get automatic promotion. Much less and it will be very tight!

One last point: I was born and bred in Manchester (Wythenshawe) and have supported City through thick and thin for all my life (more than 50 years, sadly!). I was a season ticket holder for many years and even bought shares in the Club the week after the Luton defeat brought relegation! Yes, I relish the days when United get beat (my brother is United supporter, as are half my wife’s family and loads of my friends) but will I chant ‘If you hate Man United’ etc. – will I hell! Just what have Man United got to do with City playing at Swindon? Forget them – until we earn the right to play (and hopefully beat) them. Forget the petty criticisms, certainly forget any racist notions (special note for a section of the so-called supporters), just get behind the team, or don’t bother going!

Grouse over!

CTIDWIMB! (City… wherever I may be!), Barry Taylor (BarryRiley@aol.com)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE II

SWINDON TOWN vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 1st April 2000

As this was the first match I’ve been to since we lost 0-1 to Port Vale on Boxing Day 1997, please don’t expect a reasoned, well-balanced report. Just about the whole team has changed since I last saw Moonchester in the flesh, although Richard Edghill may have been a survivor of that Boxing Day team. To be honest, that match was probably as low as it went. Frank Clark was sacked a week or so later and we crashed and burned under Joe before rising again. My doubt over Edghill’s presence (physical or otherwise) for the Port Vale game results from my finely-honed skills at erasing certain periods of the Blues’ history from my mind (I only dream of Frank Clark once a week now). In fact, writing this has opened the proverbial box and I seem to remember Eddy McGoldrick as that match’s inept right back.

Anyway, back to Saturday, and far more pleasant (and hopefully more lucid) memories. This being my first attendance for such a long time, I left home (in Bristol) very early, feeling about 4/10 excited. By the time I’d got to the Chippenham junction I was at 9/10 excited as I’d been overtaken by lots of cars full of Blues and it felt good to be back among them. All the way into Swindon, every other car seemed to carrying the faithful. I felt like a prodigal son returning after too long an absence (not my fault milord, stuck out in France and then the USA). The County Ground loomed before me, cathedral-like, and I was overcome as my love for the beautiful game and my desire to celebrate and preach it’s gospel devoured me “…cut, cut, cut, OK, I know, rose-tinted glasses, too long away, lost perspective…” The County Ground loomed before me. What a dump. Its significance is put into context by the fact that it is overshadowed by a far more famous neighbour – the nationally acclaimed “Magic” roundabout (the one where fancy satellite roundabouts surround a bigger affair). What I can’t understand is that Swindon is supposed to be one of the most desirable places to live in the UK. No unemployment, everyone loaded up with cash and culture living the most fulfilling lives. Well, I’m sorry, but the bit I saw was a dump, with about as much inspiration as Beckham’s hairstylist. And, as for the football played in the area, well, on to that later.

So, there I was, 2.05pm outside Gate 4 of the Arkle stand at 2.30. 10/10 excited. My mate, and ticket bearer, Dave was due there at 2.30 and for once I didn’t care that I had half an hour to kill. The team bus was parked right there – I could almost smell the players. Blues were milling around by the hundred. I looked out for familiar faces, and listened in on those pre-match misinformed chats I missed so much. In the space of 20 minutes, Goater was out, out for three weeks, out for the season, going to Bermuda, coming back from Bermuda, and (fortunately and accurately) playing. Weaver had also been sold to Newcastle for £6 million and £10 million and (fortunately and accurately) was playing and had had his hair cut. Dave arrived (late, but I was enjoying myself) and we headed into the Upper Arkle row V (Restricted View). Seats were as expected (designed for the svelte and not lardy boys), but at least we had a roof over our heads. The Blues had both ends of the ground and half the Arkle stand (you’re supposed to be at home). However, with 10 minutes to go, neither end was particularly full and an announcement came over the tannoy delaying kick off for 15 minutes. More time to survey the scene. Moonchester was larking about but keeping well away from the two Swindon mascots. The Blues were on the pitch warming up. For the first time I could remember, we looked “bigger” than the opposition, and there were loads of us. Nicky appeared with his newly trimmed barnet and was promptly beaten on about 20 successive occasions by Wright-Phillips. Half the team were doing some new-fangled routine on the halfway line, all lining up then haring towards a single ball on Willie’s whistle. At the far end of the pitch, the Swindon boys just punted the ball around waiting for the inevitable.

3.15pm arrived and with the Blue contingent of the crowd now quorate, the man in black blew his whistle. I was still at 10/10 after such a protracted build up, but as the first pass went astray, I realised that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. The first 43 minutes were dire. Swindon have no money, no talent and no hope. We have all three, but were dragged down to their level. The ball spent most of the half about 100 feet above the centre circle as the midfield huffed, puffed and, mainly, hoofed. Tiatto was pretty much involved, trying to link with Kennedy, but, despite some nice touches, they were ineffective. To give Kennedy his due, the Swindon right back, a man of standing in agricultural circles, bent every rule in the Football handbook to deny time and space. Whitley, then Pollock stayed out right, in front of Edghill, but neither are naturals there and although this flank looked solid defensively, it wasn’t an attacking option. One man who certainly wasn’t exerting any influence was Tony Grant. I thought he’d be keen to get involved following his promotion after such a long absence, but he didn’t get a look in. This man, in this form at least, is not an Ian Bishop. Jobson and Prior were here, there, everywhere. Swindon’s frequent route one ball was countered every time by the Spencer’s dome and I don’t think he did anything wrong all afternoon. Looks good, and a sound purchase (although why Royle seems to be able to spot rocks at the back but not gems to sparkle up front, I cannot understand). The area where the gulf between the teams was widest was up front. For me, Goater was a revelation. I’ve read about his improved all round game this season, but I was still very surprised at just how competent he really was. OK, he missed a lob when one on one with the goalie, but to generate that chance he’d hounded a terrified centre back, forced a woeful miscontrol, taken the ball and shot almost perfectly. With the powers of hindsight (Match West on Sunday evening) the ‘keeper did really well to palm the ball away. Dickov too was playing well, and at least in the first half, stayed on his feet more (about 20% of the time then). I haven’t seen Goater with Taylor or Mills, but his pairing with wee Paul looked potent. Indeed, some fancy footwork on the left by Dickov left two defenders (the two who were supposed to be double-marking Kennedy) for dead, followed by a perfect cross fed the Goat’s head and the back of the net billowed; a moment of class which made amends for a half of dreadful football.

Half time, 1-0 up, and Walsall had just taken the lead against Barnsley. Up to second in the table, still with a game in hand. Dave went to get coffee, but realised that he needed to get home before Christmas so left the queue. The Blues around us were in good heart. After a quiet opening 30 minutes, there’d been plenty of singing, culminating in pandemonium when the goal had gone in. I sensed everyone was a bit tense after last week’s scrape against WBA and the seven matches prior to that, but I think most of us felt that Swindon were so bad that we just couldn’t lose this one even if we wanted to.

Change of end, so Nicky and his new cut were down with us and their goal was stuck behind a pillar. After a couple of minutes, Grant was off and Bish was on and we settled back for a cultured demolition. Not to be – the game more or less continued where it left off. Our midfield just couldn’t get their foot on the ball and make a pass. One-twos were always cocked up and the offside flag waved time and again. Bish’s presence was improving things though, and he got the ball out to Kennedy more. However, for a man touted as “top six” material, he didn’t really inspire me. OK, he put in a few good-looking crosses during the game, but it didn’t “rain” crosses. There’s something about Man City and wingers – we need them, they’re part of the way we play and the way we should play, but they’re such fickle things. Hot, then cold. Just not consistent, either in a game, over a season or during their career at Maine Road. Over recent years Paul Simpson, Michael Hughes, Peter Begerie, Nicky Summerbee, Terry Cooke and now Mark Kennedy have promised much. Has there really been anyone to applaud since Peter Barnes hung up his boots?

Anyway, then we scored. Throw-in on the right, Dickov through to Whitley, well-timed run (for once), not off-side. Thought he might shoot himself, but a sidefoot to Kennedy on the left and rifle shot to score. Again, thanks to the excellent coverage brought to me by HTV’s Match West, I was able to admire this finish over and over again. Looked easy from where we were sat, but he had two defenders and the goalkeeper to miss, so belted it high into the top left-hand corner. And that was that. 30 minutes to go and the match was over. Then Swindon rallied, and two incidents in the space of two minutes nicely demonstrated the rôle of Richard Edghill as hero and villain. Firstly he made a goal-saving header to clear a cross which was bound for a Swindon head but then, during the next play, he chose to head a ball back to Weaver but applied so little power it merely fell at the feet of the Swindon No 10. Nicky sprawled, did enough and the shot flashed wide. Overall, however, Richard was much more of a hero than zero on Saturday and gave as good as he got from their big centre forward. The second half continued onwards into the evening and we kept making chances and half chances. The midfield were pretty much in control now but lacked any real forward purpose. Whitley and Pollock need to get into the box, either running late once the ball has gone out wide or by running at defenders, but they don’t. Their shortcomings were exposed when, with 10 minutes left, Joe decided to shut up shop and replaced the Goat with Wiekens. Five in midfield, but no target man up front at whom the ball could be inanely hoofed – five men who would have to work openings or have a go themselves. It therefore came as no surprise that Swindon almost scored after a speculative shot from outside the box beat Weaver but failed to curve enough to get inside the post (which it hit). The game had been petering out for 30 minutes, so the final whistle came as some relief. I’m not complaining, 0-2 was just the result we wanted and they’re all that count at this stage of the season. Professional performances from Edghill, Jobson, Prior, Bishop, Dickov and Goater. Cameo from Tiatto who livened up the second period with deft (but daft) dribbling then wayward passing. Semi-professional performances from everyone else. Weaver has nothing to do except sort out the mess Edghill got him into. Roll on Wednesday night.

Leaving the ground, with promotion dreams filling my head, I thought back to the day we left the Premiership. 5th May 1996 (the day after I got married). Of the players we have today, who is as good as the 11 men who drew with Liverpool? It’s a scary thought but we’re going to have to find at least 6 good’uns if we’re to have any fun at all next year. Finally, thanks Dave for getting the ticket, I hadn’t been for far too long. OK, I’ve been lukewarm about the team and this match, but I was really really happy on Saturday.

Richard Birtles (Richard.Birtles@bristol.ac.uk)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE III

SWINDON TOWN vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 1st April 2000

A thirty minute trip to the County Ground, Swindon. Piece of cake. Sent the wife off shopping and took my two children to the match on a cold and wintery day. This was seven-year-old Laura’s first live game (other than watching me doing my bit on a Sunday morning!) and at only £2 a ticket for kids this was good value! The kick off was delayed for 15 minutes due to traffic congestion, but it was good to see the ground nearly full for once. City fans occupied both ends behind the goals and a section of the Arkells stand creating a good atmosphere. It was obvious that many others, like myself, were interspersed in the other sections of the ground too, and in the first half there were some problems arising throughout the crowd. The game started eventually and City lined up as follows;

               Weaver
Edghill   Jobson     Prior    Tiatto
Pollock   Grant     Whitley   Kennedy
         Dickov      Goater

It was a dreadful first half, with many free kicks, mostly for offsides and very few attempts on goal from either side, yet at no stage during the game did I think that City would not win. The midfield battle was a close contest with the Swindon players up for the game, matching us for committment every step of the way. However it was obvious they lack any individual quality, and it was only a matter of time before our ‘match winners’ would start to emerge. I was impressed with Spencer Prior all along. He will be a very important player for us during the run in. He was always in control at the back, taking the lead and giving orders and encouragement to the others throughout. It was evident that he is a leader among his teammates, and was winning everything in the air. This is what we have been missing since Morrison’s injury, so well done to Joe and all for securing his signature.

We were struggling to put a decent move together in the final third of the field but eventually we got the break with a very good opportunity falling to the Goat after a defender stumbled on the ball, leaving him one on one with the ‘keeper. “Here we go” I thought and time stood still as he moved in for the kill… but the ‘keeper stood his ground and made a good stop to his right. Goater looked dejected but took his chance to redeem his self just before the break. Dickov found himself wide on the left and jinked his way superbly into a yard of space, then sent over a lovely, deep cross. There was the Goat on hand rising and heading firmly downwards into the net despite a brave attempt by Talia the ‘keeper. A fine goal, surely enough to break the resilience of these relegation certainties.

The second half improved with some more open play by City though still rarely exerting themselves to any great lengths. After ten minutes Grant came off to be replaced by Bishop. Grant had looked calm and talented on the ball but never very effective in an attacking sense. No doubt Joe thought that Bish could create something for us and start opening things up some more. His presence seemed to have a positive effect on the rest of the team as most moves now involved him. Prior was still dominant in the air, and came close with a header from a corner. He was also sent cartwheeling through the air in a 50-50 challenge but amazingly got up again all smiles, as his opponent was half his size. Goal number two was a delight with Jeff Whitley bursting through from the right for what I thought was going to be a solo effort but he squared the ball perfectly into space for Kennedy to thump the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the box for a spectacular finish. Game over!

City started to knock the ball about at last to cheers from the visiting supporters, and Dickov nearly made it three after a neat move ending in a drifting shot that was tipped wide by Talia with a fine save. Three comfortable points in the bag and no obvious injuries to concern us… roll on Bolton.

Weaver – 7 – Nothing to do but for a save at feet following a bit of pinball in the box. Neat new haircut!
Edghill – 7 – Hmm, good defensively, seemed to benefit from Prior’s settling presence.
Prior – 9 – Okay, Swindon were crap but he was a star in all aspects.
Jobson – 7 – Solid performance.
Tiatto – 7 – Such a good player going forward, with some exciting runs, but gave the ball away with some poor touches.
Pollock – 8 – Didn’t look too comfortable on the right but fought for everything as usual and put in a positive performance.
Whitley – 7 – I’m still far from convinced but he did okay. Why no Horlock?
Grant – 7 – Thought he did reasonably well but expected more influence on the game.
Kennedy – 8 – An extra point for the goal, and he is a match winner for sure, but does he have Terry Cooke’s problem? Didn’t seem to be that interested and seemed to be a ‘luxury’ player. Hope he turns it on for the tougher opposition!
Dickov – 7 – Moaning, diving, falling over too easily… same old story that cost us a lot of possession, but he unlocked the door a couple of times, providing one of the goals.
Goater – 8 – Again an extra point for the goal. Quiet game for the holy one, but he’s always there when it matters.
Sub: Bishop – 7 – Did his bit without shining but had a positive effect on the game.

Let’s hope our faltering patch is behind us. C’mon you Blues!

Adam Davey (adam@daveya.screaming.net)

STATEMENT FROM THE FOOTBALL SUPPORTERS’ ASSOCIATION

Below is Ali Pilling, Chair of the FSA and a Leeds fan’s official statement on the events of last night. Some of you may have heard the hard time Ali got this morning on Radio 4’s Today programme (basically all football fans are hooligans); this was 100% different to the reception she got on Radio 5. I think this may have a lot to do with this statement being issued as the FSA are unequivocal about the safety of our fans travelling abroad.

The Football Supporters’ Association expresses its extreme distress and anger at the deaths and severe injuries to Leeds fans in Istanbul yesterday, and offers heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight.

We are particularly angry that it still not possible for law-abiding English fans to travel abroad to matches secure in the belief that their safety is paramount. It is completely unacceptable that the Police and other authorities in Istanbul cannot guarantee the safety of people travelling to watch their team.

We believe that this failure on the authorities’ part is guided by the erroneous belief that policing is solely aimed at identifying known troublemakers. It is the first responsibility of any Police Force to ensure that people be free of the worry of violence whilst abroad. Policing and indeed associated media coverage should reflect the actual situation, not any assumed reputation. We also believe that it is the responsibility of authorities in this country to stress to their overseas counterparts that the vast majority of English fans are well-behaved and need and deserve to be treated accordingly.


THANK YOU VILLA!

T  erry
R  ifled
O  pener
T  hen
T  eam
E  ffort
R  esulted in
S  econd.

I just thought I’d better admit that the reference to “Terry” in the acronym was meant to refer to “Terry Horlock” – all I can say in my defence is that I’m old and steadily losing brain cells, plus I was on a high immediately after the result.

Silly mistake to make but somehow “KROTTERS” doesn’t sound quite right either!

Steve Maclean (stm1@stm1.freeserve.co.uk)

FOOTBALL LEAGUE – FANS’ FEEDBACK

I have been invited to attend a meeting at Maine Road on Saturday 8 April with Paul Johns of the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research at Leicester University, who is carrying out a survey on behalf of the Football League to find out what fans think and feel about some of the important issues in the game today. About a dozen other City fans will be there, as will Steve Sayer on behalf of City.

If you have any views which you feel particularly strongly about, whether it be about the way clubs are run; likes and dislikes about going to matches – home and away; reasons why some people are season ticket holders and other are not; how you see the future of support for our club and Football League clubs generally; players’ behaviour and players as rôle models, then please email me at city.bird@virgin.net and I will endeavour to raise them at the meeting. I will let you have a brief report on how the meeting went and the issues raised.

Alex Bracey a.k.a. MLI (alex@mancity.net)

REDDISH CSA

The next gathering of the Reddish Branch (CSA) will be on Wednesday 12th April at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport starting at 8.00pm and our confirmed guest is Branch President Gerard Wiekens. All Blues are welcome.

Howard Burr, Secretary (reddishblues@btinternet.com)

COMMENTS ON THE BOLTON GAME

Last night was like being back on the old Kippax. GG lower (of which I know there are quite a few readers since the bit about Dougie) were brilliant last night, it’s about time we got behind them like that. Quite a few of us sing and try to get it going but there are often not enough of us, and it soon dies; last night was excellent. I was going to move seats at h/t last night, as a couple of the Thames Valley lads had a spare seat next to them. Anyway the atmosphere was so good, no-way was I moving. We seemed to sing the whole 2nd half. I hope it carries on! I wish I could be there on Saturday, but due to work commitments I’ll have to take it in on the City site commentary, and ICQ. The good news: all the home games I’ve missed this season because of work have been high scoring wins!

A quick mention of the team and Joe’s selection.

I was very surprised at Joe’s selection, but I must admit to being very sceptical, and for the first 2 or 3 minutes I thought oh sh!t. However, I was proved well and truly wrong. Not a selection I would have picked, but then I don’t get paid £X,000 a week. Nice one Joe, there have been times this season when we have wondered, and last night was one, but it was spot on, just like the second half at Port Vale when you also gambled.

The team were superb last night as well, and it’s nice to hear so many now think Richard Edghill is a “good” player, some fickle people about eh? For me though the man who was top man was Gerrard Weikens, who for weeks has looked lost in the back four, but not in this new rôle, he was brilliant and inspired everyone.

Paul Stevenson – ChinnorBLU (stevo@mancity.net)

OPINION – TALISMAN

Having spent the last 15 months living and working in Zürich, I was afraid of the correlation between my time in the country and City’s fortunes.

By the time I was settled in Zürich, December ’98, City were up and down and under achieving against the journeymen of Division 2. Come Christmas, the infamous run began and the rest is history. I almost managed to jinx the whole affair by watching the Final in a pub in Putney in full colours on my own. With 1 minute left, imagine my horror at facing my mates who were at the game. Some twist of fate enabled us to pull through, and I put thoughts of myself being the team’s albatross to the back of my mind.

New season, new kit, new potential horrors. But lo, what light from yonder window breaks? My continued expat status was having an incredible talismanic effect on the team. Could I ever come home? Having bitten the bullet I decide to return home on Feb 1st. Statistics for Feb / March? Played 9, Won 2, Drawn 5 Lost 2, Points 11 from a possible 27.

Aaarrggghhhh, it’s happening again. Having wracked my brains for a solution, even contemplating moving back to Zürich (very bad idea), it finally dawned on me what was wrong. It wasn’t me at all but the City subbuteo player who had been on top of my PC for the whole period.

You will be pleased to know he is now out of storage, Sellotaped back in position and his current record? Played 3, Won 3.

Finally, thank you Mcvittee for keeping me in touch with things whilst in exile.

City Til I Turn Swiss (Cold day in hell etc.), Mick Maynard (Michael.Maynard@wdr.com)

OPINION – WHY BLUE STILL!

When all is said and done I don’t know if I will be as devastated as I thought I would be should City not go up. This is not about us not being good enough to stay up, once we get there etc. (I think we will attract some good players, more so than Charlton or Watford). Of course I understand the implications of missing out on the Premiership windfall, the disappointment of being so close to the top and not getting to the land of the golden fleece. I am as desperate as the next Blue to see us play in the most exciting league in the world (unfortunately we are an English side not Italian – humor attack!).

This is more of a Why Blue Still than a Why Blue. I’ve done one of those. What I am getting at is that that nagging, pulling feeling in the stomach that has been so long part and parcel of a City fan that tells you “What A F!?*ing mess we are in: iffy team, crap manager, rubbish back room staff, bobbins Chairman, no money etc.” is slowly turning into a dull cramp. I think the term used is “turning the corner”. We all know that we are a long way from the finished article but things are getting better. They are for me anyway. We know where we have been, for those of us who had one had on the Cup in ’81, that was our last kiss with the goddess of shiny silver things (last season not included). And for a good, long time we have known where we are going – up sh*t creek without a paddle. Is that why we have been so loyal, ’cause we have know that it’s not as easy as choosing a winning team or a glamorous one. Are we safe in the knowledge that no matter how bad it gets, we are still going to be there for them, and we know it is going to get worse or at least it was? For the first time in years, and here is my point, I think that sometime soon City are going to do something alternative to just surviving. I don’t get that feeling of utter despair that I used to get. We didn’t win for 7 or 8 games and although I was gutted, I still felt we had some more in our tanks. We can still go up second. Not like years past when when one of the wheels came off you could bet your house on the rest of them following suit. Not now. We actually have the stomach for it. And so do I. cutmethroughanditi’llsayblue.

Michael Bayliss (cutcopy@netactive.co.za)

HELP!

Anyone have any information of any televised games left this season being shown in the South East Asia region?

I’m stuck in The Philippines with no chance of getting back until the fat lady has well and truly finished her set.

Even the videos are a different format to the UK, so as you’d expect I’m now getting desperate!

Andy Gordon (andyg@cyworld.net)

REQUEST – 98/99 VIDEO

Are there any videos available covering last season’s promotion season and/or just the play-off final? Living in Montrose (Scotland, half way between Aberdeen and Dundee), it is hard to get info on City, so if anyone can help me with how to obtain any videos, please e-mail me. I currently have the official merchandise catalogue on order, will this be of any help to me? Could someone tell me if there are to be any more City live games on Sky between now and the end of the season?

Hoping for promotion – Steven Page (spage@angus-nhs.finix.org.uk)

REQUEST – ROMAINIAN CITY FANS

I am a Romanian City fan and I wonder if any other Blues supporters, Romanians or British ex-patriates are reading MCIVTA here, in Romania. Please drop me a line and we could get together for a beer. Thank you very much.

Valentin Cudric (valentinc@capital.starnets.ro)

WHY BLUE?

I am 44 years old and live in Seattle, USA. When I was a kid looking for direction, boy did my dad show me the way. Any of my brothers who liked football, of course liked Utd. I remember when we lived in Rhodesia (69) my dad saying “what about City, I used to play for them”. Of course he didn’t, but City became my team, my dad, my hero. A short time later after watching my other hero Colin Bell play for England in the 70 world cup we moved to South Africa. I kept scrapbooks with all the City players and who could forget them, we all know who they are.

When we moved back to England, the very first day, my dad took me to Maine Road. To me it was like Mecca. I walked in and the first time I saw the field, I was just in awe. We got there pretty early and I savoured every second of City thrashing Southampton 3-0. Even through the bad times, although it wasn’t always easy to keep up on the information from here, my support has never waivered. I still argue with my brother who now lives in Philly. In fact I saw him last week, and for the first time in his life he agreed that City have the most loyal fans in England, including me. He does not understand how I could continue to support a team that was so recently in the second division (I’m afraid he is somewhat “Americanized”). Of course it’s always been easy for him with all their success. City’s resurgence has coincided with the inception of digital cable in Seattle, Fox Sports Northwest and Sky Sports News picked up locally. It’s been a joy to watch after all the years of mediocrity. Last week my brother asked if I thought that City owed me something. I told him no, it’s the other way round. After all any goof could support a winner all the time, it doesn’t take loyalty. City have taught me over the years that even though things get bad, greatness is just around the corner and I’ll live longer just waiting for it to happen. I love City and have for as long as I can remember. I really believe they are the team of the future. Hey wait a minute, I have always believed that too (as long as I can remember), but only City could keep me believing!

Ray Williamson (raytoni@worldnet.att.net)

RESULTS

5 April 2000

Manchester City       2 - 0  Bolton Wanderers

4 April 2000

Port Vale             2 - 2  Charlton Athletic
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 1  Ipswich Town

League table to 5 April 2000 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Charlton Ath.   40 15  2  3 35 13 12  5  3 40 23 27  7  6 75 36  39  88
 2 Manchester City 40 14  2  4 41 17  8  7  5 23 19 22  9  9 64 36  28  75
 3 Barnsley        40 14  3  3 44 19  8  5  7 36 38 22  8 10 80 57  23  74
 4 Ipswich Town    40 13  3  4 33 17  7  9  4 27 21 20 12  8 60 38  22  72
 5 Birmingham City 40 14  4  2 35 15  6  5  9 26 27 20  9 11 61 42  19  69
 6 Huddersfield T. 40 14  4  2 43 16  5  6  9 16 24 19 10 11 59 40  19  67
 7 Wolves          40 12  5  3 38 19  5  6  9 17 25 17 11 12 55 44  11  62
 8 Bolton Wndrs    40 11  5  4 36 22  5  7  8 16 19 16 12 12 52 41  11  60
 9 Blackburn R.    40 10  7  3 30 14  5  7  8 20 27 15 14 11 50 41   9  59
10 Fulham          40 11  6  3 25 12  4  8  8 15 23 15 14 11 40 35   5  59
11 QPR             40  7 11  2 25 18  6  5  9 27 29 13 16 11 52 47   5  55
12 Norwich City    40  9  5  6 23 21  3  9  8 17 23 12 14 14 40 44  -4  50
13 Sheff. United   40 10  5  5 35 21  3  6 11 20 41 13 11 16 55 62  -7  50
14 Tranmere Rovers 39  9  6  4 30 22  4  4 12 19 35 13 10 16 49 57  -8  49
15 Stockport C.    40  7  8  5 28 27  4  6 10 15 30 11 14 15 43 57 -14  47
16 Grimsby Town    40 10  6  4 25 22  3  2 15 13 40 13  8 19 38 62 -24  47
17 Crystal Palace  40  6 10  4 28 20  5  3 12 20 37 11 13 16 48 57  -9  46
18 Portsmouth      40  8  5  7 31 21  4  4 12 17 36 12  9 19 48 57  -9  45
19 Nottm Forest    40  8  8  4 26 17  3  3 14 19 34 11 11 18 45 51  -6  44
20 Crewe Alex.     40  7  5  8 21 25  4  3 13 16 31 11  8 21 37 56 -19  41
21 West Brom A.    40  4 10  6 17 21  4  6 10 15 30  8 16 16 32 51 -19  40
22 Walsall         40  5  5 10 21 31  4  7  9 23 35  9 12 19 44 66 -22  39
23 Port Vale       39  6  5  9 24 25  1  8 10 20 32  7 13 19 44 57 -13  34
24 Swindon Town    40  3  6 11 18 34  3  5 12 12 33  6 11 23 30 67 -37  29

With thanks to Football 365

WWW MANCHESTER CITY SUPPORTERS’ HOME PAGE:
http://www.uit.no/mancity/


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The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #594

2000/04/06

Editor:


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